I figured since I told you all about the Matryoshka Haus presentation for ‘The Gathering’ that was happening Saturday afternoon you would want to know how it went. Well, in a word, ‘splendidly’!! I was so very proud of the Matryoshka Haus team – the GENUINE way by which they engaged the people of ‘The Gathering’ most assuredly had a lasting impression on them. As one member evidenced during the conclusion of our time together by saying that, “In his 15 years of hearing from different charities and organizations, he had NEVER experienced any who invited them to get involved in, and be active participants of, the presentation…”as well as stating that he had never witnessed a group who invited and accepted constructive criticism the way that MH did so humbly. He then expressed his sincere appreciation of the fact that Matryoshka Haus did these things while others have not.
The MH response was, not surprisingly, to say that the presentation was absolutely representative of core ways by which we do what we do; actively engaging others in conversations, and encouraging questions and criticisms about what we’ve done thus far as well as what we hope to do in the future. The warm hospitality that is mentioned by me on a regular basis as core to all that MH is and does, was poured over the people of ‘The Gathering’ and the atmosphere was one of excitement and sincerity. We divided the group between four different MH projects so they each heard very thoroughly about one specific project. They were then brought back together and had to explain the projects to each other. Based on their explanations, it was apparent that relative to the amount of time we had to convey the purpose and impact of our projects, ‘The Gathering’ had a firm grasp on what MH does and the effects it is having. It was really amazing to see how much people learn when they are actively engaged in the teaching process, as well how when they are participants it personally relates them and thereby creates more of an emotional connection between the ‘students’, the ‘teacher’ and the subject matter at hand. I was given the amazing opportunity of explaining the impact the Design Camps at The Marylebone project have had through a conversational question-and-answer format. About halfway through the process one of the women in my group spoke up and said, “Wow, this is great – this makes it impossible for me to be passive.” The fact that she had to come up with her own questions and figure out on her own what the Design Camps really do and the effects that they have created a more personal connection between herself and the project because she was a part of ‘getting to know’ that project. In addition, I believe that when you allow the audience to ask questions, you are making yourselves as the presenters much more vulnerable as there is the chance that you will not know the answer to the question. The fact that MH took the risk of opening themselves up to the mercy of ‘The Gathering’s’ questions shows that they have confidence in themselves as well as the courage to create, and face challenge.
One of my favorite things about the whole experience was the comfort and joy that came from the fact that the Holy Spirit was within all of the people in that room, and while each person’s goals and ideas about the presentation and MH were different, the collective and ultimate goal was, and is, the same; bringing glory to God by working to bring His kingdom to earth. Because of this common goal there was an energy and a very real sense of the power of the Holy Spirit within that group on Saturday that was both encouraging and inspiring.
In conclusion, while there were some concerns and criticisms voiced (the very thing MH invited) ‘The Gathering’ seemed extremely interested in, and impressed by, Matryoshka Haus and its projects. What’s more, there seemed to be a genuine understanding of the fact that ‘the context in which we work’ is different from the majority of charities and thus the way by which that work is carried out looks different. The hope and prayer of Matryoshka Haus now is that we remain salient in the minds of the people of ‘The Gathering’ as an organization that sets itself apart in the way it is impacting the lives of others for the sake of the Kingdom of God as well as one that has what it takes to continue to have that impact.